Intro to Sociology
Intro to Sociology
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This 13 page Reader was uploaded by Casey Pond on Friday April 4, 2014. The Reader belongs to a course at University of California Santa Barbara taught by a professor in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 169 views.
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Date Created: 04/04/14
What is sociology What do we study o Anything that pertains to socially meaningful human behavior For example we do not study sneezing However we do study how people interpret or react to sneezing Why do we say bless you after a sneeze So what does this say 2 Sneezing is an involuntary and inherently meaningless behavior it39s something all mammals do But we attribute meaning to it Saying bless you is really saying I acknowledge your worth as a fellow being It is a taken for granted ritual that we perform and not performing it says something o Ex You39re a creepy sneezing guy on the bus and I don39t want to say bless you because you might want to talk to me o The sociology of sneezing says a lot about social boundaries who39s an insider vs an outsider and who we consider worthy of respect etc I will often say bless you to my dog not my catHmmm Sociology is a way of seeing the world that leads us to systematic and purposeful data collection and analysis o It stems from the premise If men define situations as real they are real in their consequences WI Thomas 1928 o Together we socially construct much of our reality Berger and Luckmann 1966 Sociology makes familiar seem strange and sometimes strange seem familiar o Things we take for granted and seem natural may be arbitrary and done very differently elsewhere or at other times in own history o Families race gender leisure etc How many of you think killing cats sound like a good night39s entertainment o Me neither 0 But Darnton s The Great Cat Massacre shows that this was more common and accepted in the 18 century Why 0 Today bullfighting boxing and especially football are sources of entertainment and esteem o How will future sociologists see us Cultural Anthropology more often takes the goal of making the strange seem more familiar ethnographies of less developed societies while sociology focuses more on modern developed societies and studies what seems natural but isn39t This is part of the sociological imagination C Wright Mills 0 We connect our own personal biographies with history 0 We see that how we live is part of a huge variation in human societies and only one way that social life is accomplished There are many others and outsiders within our own society whose behaviors may be thought of as exotic strange and perhaps justwrong That39s why sociology is not just one topic or theory but a way of seeing and doing research There are many overlapping topics and theories in sociology o The sociology of 0 Culture education religion sports knowledge medicine the family organizations the economy etc We collect and analyze data in a systematic way 0 Sometimes to interpret how people think and make sense of their worlds 0 Sometimes to build and test hypotheses connected with theories about how the social world works 0 No single theory can explain everything so we shoot for middle range theories that generalize to a certain social phenomenon Lets start with you Why are you here Not as in what is the meaning of life but why are you here in the cassroomright now Some sociologists would be very interested in what it means to go to college that is why this is a meaningful activity for people These researches would engage in systematic and purposeful observation and interviewing in order to explore the meaning of college perhaps how this has changed over time or varies from one group to another Others would be more interested in how college fits within a casual model that is a theory about how college fits within a larger social system Does College Matter for Earnings How could we figure out whether or not getting a degree leads to making more money 0 Look at earnings of college grads versus those who with high school diplomas but no college degree 0 Includes costs of education perhaps community costs Better investment today than every before WHY o A graduates are smarter and harder working a way to sort people according to talent and ability 0 B college teaches important schools that are job related very useful later on in a variety of occupations o C mostly about making social connections who you meet in college 0 D people just have a belief in higher education like religious belief that it is important Having a credential makes you feel or act smarter Sociologists study Social Institutions A Social Institution is a group of social positions connected by social relations that performs a social role 0 The family 0 The legal system 0 The University Each of these has a set of different positions eg father uncle brother that are constituted by social ties and together performs a social role eg social support Institutions rely on other institutions in order to exist and to have meaning A brief Sociology of Sociology Sociology itself is an institution 0 It is a set of positions teachers researches students with social relations oriented to the role of creating knowledge 0 It comes about at a specific time and place 19 century France and Germany Why Not much sociology in agrarian empires 0 Individual thinkers and wise men eg Confucius o Historians chroniclers of wars etc Social thought needs a community to carry it down to preserve it and build upon it The Origins of Sociology Other institutions needed to be in place Societies needed to become disenchanted Weber more on that later 0 Matter of fact attitude about the social world 0 No longer sacred roles that couldn39t be questioned Rise of Intellectual specialists o Create their own community in search of knowledge 0 The development of sociology is really about the development of a community of thought with internal structures and with relations with broader social world Rise of Social Science Harder to develop than the rise of natural sciences 0 Galileo Darwin controversies are relatively rare in the progress of science 0 Social orthodoxy the naturaness of the social order 0 Sociology would have gotten you killed Institutions in the realm of politics education and religion had to align to allow for the social scientific community to emerge The importance of theory Early sociologists were broad thinkers heirs of Enlightenment philosophers and much of what they did was highly theoretical o What does it mean to be a member of our society Does it give us our freedom or does it take our freedom away o Grand theories about the origin of society human nature and where societies are headed in the future how we came to be human history Thomas Hobbes Society is o A social contract in which we exchange our freedom for securty o Human nature is to dominate one another by force if necessary Basically about pleasure seeking that will not change did not have a sense of biology but would have said we were born with it you can never have enough pleasure 2 Only thing that stops us is society each other need a supreme authority figure to keep desires in check The founding of sociology An attempt to create a science of society Auguste Comte Rule of three stages o Coined the term sociology but initially wanted to call it social physicsquot 0 A materialistic theory everything has a chain of causation o The aim should be to find the most generalizable laws possible to explain the most phenomena possible ex gravity o Saw everything social individuals institutions societies moving through three phases theological metaphysical and scientific positivist o Not much read today society like an organism Functionalism o Late 19 to early 20 century o Comte s lineage to be as scientific as possible o Carried this forward is still widely read o Famously showed that committing suicide was not only about an individuals psychological state o But from a lack of social integration into a larger social body We individuals are like cells in a body and when we aren39t told what to do we are more likely to go off the deep end This can happen for a number of reasons including a rapid shift in our position in society o Theory stresses society as a type of organism where different institutions each have a purpose Modern societies are divided into jobs a division of labor within institutions that have functions just like organs in a body When properly integrated they contribute to the whole the economy is like the blood that brings nourishment to parts of the body the government is like the brain and sociologists are like part of the brain that can diagnose problems and help get the system working better Society makes us free by telling us what to do Jean Jacques Rousseau o Society is Loss of freedom through private property Human nature is malleable people had great freedom in early history the noble savage conflict based upon social classes o Not a sociologist more an economist o But generates a conflict based theory for society o Social classes the haves and have nots are what39s important Believed communism was inevitable Conflict was caused by the people who own and those who are owned a product of the economy mumdemensional conflict and interpretive approach o Advances Marx39s confict based approach o Broadens conflict beyond economic groups Other social divisionssuch as status groups and political partiesalso matter for understanding society and social institutions History as a messy multisided conflict with many fronts 2 Confict Theorist 2 Believed economy is important but also status and power not just who owns the means of production who is educated and speaks English 0 Also takes issue with the idea that sociology should try to be like the hard sciences o Introduces the idea that sociology is more interpretive we seek the understand how people attribute meaning to their actions people are different that simple psychical mechanisms 0 Our goal as sociologists should be to understand at a deeper humanistic level social institutions Early sociology tended to be MacroSociology Comparing societies with one another Trying to explain global developmentslarge scale revolutions Looking over long historical periods Most contemporary macrosociology is scaledback somewhat MicroSociology studies face to face interactions Take Weber39s concern with understanding meaningful action to interpersonal behaviors Key dimensions still important today Key dynamics of Society 0 Conflict vs Cooperation Levels of Theory 0 Macro vs Micro Approach to Research Questions 0 Causal vs Interpretive Theories Lead to Methods Approach to research A deductive approach to search 0 1 Start with theory 0 2 Develop hypothesis 0 3 Make empirical observations 0 4 Analyze the data collected through observation Generalizability seeks to infer from a sample to a population that is a sample is representative samples often are people but could be larger groups cities or even events riots Validity concerned with accurated explaining and representing a given part of the social world Tradeoff between number of cases and the detail gathered on each case An inductive approach 0 1 Starts with empirical observation 0 2 then works to form a theory 0 3 determines if a correlation exists by noticing if a chance is observing in two things simultaneously Giving Voice inductive approach seek to understand groups of people who have been mis understood exoticized mis characterized Often vofuses on stigmatized and outsider groups the poor mentally ill IV rioters Research Methods Standard rules that social scientists follow when trying to establish a relationship between social elements 0 Quantitative o Qualitative Different philosophies of knowledge epistemologies How we know what we know and what is knowable Positivism Durkheim causality vs Interpretivism Weber give voice Causality vs Correlation Sociologists often conduct research to try to establish causation To establish causation correlation and time order are established and alternative explanations are ruled out Alternative explanations are easily ruled out with experimental conditions Spuriousness When we think that something causes something but it doesn39t Both the cause and the effect are related to a third factor Unlikely in experiments with random assignment Individua centered ability theory college sorts people based on prior skills and ability Human capital what you learn in college matters Culture capital it matters because it is a ritual separate you makes you able to be a snob Social capital you gain connections The sociology of culture Culture can be loosely defined as a set of beliefs traditions and knowledge Material vs Nonmaterial Culture Material culture is everything that is part of our constructed environment books fashion monuments Nonmaterial culture encompasses values beliefs behaviors and social norms Theories of Culture Basic tension in theories of culture is culture important because it unites us or because it conceals our divisions Durkheimian theories See culture as important set of values and norms into which we are socialized Important for social cohesiveness of society Conflict Theories of culture Stem from Karl Marx belief that the dominant ideas of a given era are the ideas of the dominant groupclass Culture is a weapon in the group struggle for power prestige and legitimacy Culture of Consumption o Capitalist system fosters desire and feelings of inadequacy Thornstein Veblen 18571929 American sociologist 0 Rough mannered son of Norwegian farmers o Felt out of place in snooty academia Not a Marxist but highly critical of the wealthy 0 Our natural instinct for workmanship is transformed into efforts to outdo one another in accumulating symbols of economic achievement Private property becomes the basis of esteem o Sef esteem based upon material possessions 0 Not possible to be satisfied since the struggle is substantially a race for reputability on the basis of invidious comparison Conspicuous leisure o Consuming time non productivey because work is unworthy characteristic of the old aristocracy o Demonstrates one s wealth 0 As does the knowledge of dead languages and the occult sciences of correct spelling of syntax and prosody of the various forms of domestic music and other household art of the latest properties of the race horsesmanners and breeding polite usage decorum and formal ceremonial observances We mistake money for status We mistake price for beauty ex wine 2 Ideas of female beauty Tied to being useless and expensive Clothing that hampers the wearer and incapacitates Socialization the process by which individuals internalize the values beliefs and norms of a given society and learn to function as a member of that society Socialization cannot explain everything about a person39s development and personality We are not blank states Biology is also very important component It is a combination of bio and social interactions that makes us who we are Agents of Socialization Families schools peers and media are most important socializing agents A total institution is an institution in which one is totally immersed that controls all the basics of day to day life o Ex Military Monasteries Mental Hospital Families for most people the primary unit of socialization Differences in socialization practices across social groups 0 Cass based differences may be especially consequenUaH Family Cultural Capital 0 Children with greater privilege learn elaborated codes of communication Stresses abstract self reflection Budgeting time Concerted cutivation by parents o Children from less privilege backgrounds learn restricted codes Less says more ex Spanking More concrete dos and dont s Less supervised time Achievement of natural growth Schools Good teachers can make a difference But what makes a good teacher remain mysterious The schooling system heavily factors elaborated codes cultural capital 0 Disadvantages working class kids 0 Rewards he orientations already instilled by privileged backgrounds o Teachers athough we meaning0 may have a hidden curriculum Elite private schools o Ex Le Rosey Chateau de Rosey in Rolle Switzerland 0 74000 annual base fee Socialize elite into demonstrating the ease of privilege Friends can help reinforce messages taught by family or school Peer groups often develop their own sets of rules and expose one another to distinct pressures Oppositional cultures from less advantaged groups 0 Kids disqualify themselves What is the Media Media are any formats or vehicles that carry present or communicate information books posters web pages clay tablets and radio Mass media refers to any media that reaches the mass of the people Hegemony refers to the impact of media on culture and how people and societies shape and are shaped by the dominant culture The media and culture Ethnocentrism is a real lack of the sociological imagination o Sees one s own culture as inherently better than other cultures Culture relativism says we should suspend our judgment and not assign value to cultural differences 0 Not the same as moral relativism The media especially advertisements play a large role in the maintenance of consumerism the belief that happiness and fulfillment can be achieved through acquisition of material possessions Social Interaction To understand socialization better we need to understand everyday face to face behavior Socialization doesn39t just stop it happens everyday through social activity Statues and Roles Robert Merton39s role theory provides a way to describe social interaction 0 A status is a position in society Ascribed statues we are born with Achieved statues we earn through individual effort or have imposed by others Roles are the behaviors expected from a particular status Statues and roles are widely varied across societies and over time 0 We are socialized into them Back to the Social Construction of Reality 0 People give meaning or value to ideas or objects through social interactions 0 An ongoing process that is embedded in our everyday interactions Social Construction of Reality Symbolic Interactionism is a mico eve theory based on the idea that people act in accordance with shared meanings orientations and assumptions 0 Ex becoming a doctor Or a marijuana smoker Erving Goffman39s dramaturgical theory views social life a s a theatrical performance in which we are all actors on stages with roles scripts costumes and sets 0 Ex dating Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis are rigorous micro eve approaches to how reality is a fragile proposition that needs constant unconscious upkeep 0 Ex transgendered persons
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